My baseball book proclamation

September 17, 2013 · 2 comments

I did a post about self-published books awhile back, specifically Mike Gallagher’s The Diamond Deception and how I would pass on it. Kudos to Doug Smith at the Towanda News for devoting the time to reading the novel and writing a review. For me, he sums up my thoughts about such projects thusly:

Deception’s” devil is in the details. Grammatically, it’s hardly smarter than a fifth grader — elementary stuff the likes of uses of “your” and “you’re,” missing and/or excessive quotation marks and one particularly comical bobble about “an idol threat,” downright un-American.

It made me realize something a bit morbid.

At Yom Kippur, Jews pray for another year in the Book of Life, but who can say what’s to come? So I’ve made a few decisions about my future reading material. This is in no way meant as disrespect to those writers and artists who toil so hard on their projects; some of these decisions are just a product of advancing age, increasing impatience, and an increasingly limited attention span. I consider it more of a “reading budget.”

Bearing in mind that there will always be exceptions…


  • No more “collections” of a single writer’s previously published work, regardless of how wonderful the writer, which I’ve already read for the most part. This would apply to publications such as Ira Berkow’s Summers at Shea: Tom Seaver Loses His Overcoat and Other Mets Stories and American Pastimes: The Very Best of Red Smith. However, since I don’t read the New Yorker regularly, a  collection of Roger Angell’s more recent work would be welcome.
  • No more oral histories (unless the overall topic hasn’t been done before or is otherwise compelling). I came to this realization at the recent SABR conference in Philadelphia when one of the panels consisted of a few ex-Phillies talking abut their experiences. Just as they must be tired of hearing the same questions and comments from the fans, so, too, am I just not interested in their anecdotes.
  • Fewer “scholarly” biographies. I came to this conclusion after receiving a massive advance copy of Ben Bradlee Jr.’s The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams (sorry, but that title comes too soon after The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks). Again, I realize the authors are justifiably proud of their research, but how much — and what kind– makes a new bio necessary? Having said that, after an initial dislike due to the introduction’s grisly description of Williams’ ALCOR experience, it’s growing on me. More on this in a future entry.
  • Fewer baseball novels. Once again, all due respect, most of these are either too literary at the expense of the baseball story or too much baseball exposition at the expense of a “real” story.

So it is written, so it shall be done.

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  • James Bailey

    Perhaps you’ve already drawn a line through the dozens of books aimed at parents of youth baseball players that seem to be pitched to me for reviews on almost a monthly basis. Those are an automatic no thanks here.

    I totally hear you on needing to be a little more picky with your reading list. I love a good baseball novel, but the problem are there are so many bad ones. For as much as some authors claim to love baseball, many of them seem to know very little about the details, or at least they don’t bother making their baseball world realistic. (Oddly enough, when you decline to review it and give them some feedback, they don’t seem all that appreciative.)

  • Ron_Kaplan


    Those books aimed at younger readers and their parents, both on a general and instructional level, were never a part of my routine reading, so I didn’t even bother to mention them.

    As for novelists, I usually lay off them insofar as their lack of understanding or over-exposition goes, unless I find it so gut-wrenching that I just can’t stay silent.

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